Windows 11 Better Than Linux Right Now For Intel Alder Lake Performance

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 12 November 2021. Page 1 of 9. 67 Comments

While we are used to running AMD and Intel benchmarks between Microsoft Windows and Linux while most often finding that our favorite open-source operating systems normally lead the race from desktops through HEDT and server platforms, when it comes to the Core i9 12900K "Alder Lake" that is currently not the case. Going into this round of Windows vs. Linux testing quite curious given some Intel hybrid architecture oddities we have been seeing under Linux, indeed when hitting Windows 11 and an assortment of Linux distributions with benchmarks we were left disappointed. Not only did Windows 11 come out faster overall, but related is now Linux also had much higher run-to-run variance due to the mix of P and E cores with Thread Director not making the wisest choices under Linux.

These results are our first set of cross-platform benchmarking for Intel Alder Lake. The same system was obviously used throughout all testing and that consisted of an Intel Core i9 12900K at stock speeds (any reported clock speed differences on the system table below just amount to OS reporting differences with the APIs), an ASUS ROG STRIX Z690-E GAMING WIFI with its latest launch-day BIOS, 2 x 32GB Corsair DDR5-4400 memory, 1TB WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe HDD, and the integrated Alder Lake S GT1 graphics. The hardware configuration and all BIOS settings were kept the same throughout testing.

Microsoft Windows 11 Pro was tested first with all updates and latest drivers as of 8 November. The Linux distributions tested for broad exposure included:

Clear Linux 35250 - Intel's own Linux distribution for showing the performance potential as normally the most well optimized Linux distribution for x86_64 hardware thanks to various patches, aggressive defaults from compiler flags to governor, and more.

Fedora Workstation 35 - The new Fedora 35 release with all stable updates.

Ubuntu 21.10 - The recent Ubuntu 21.10 release.

Ubuntu 21.10 + Linux 5.15 - As another run of Ubuntu 21.10 was moving from the stock Linux 5.13 kernel up to Linux 5.15.0 stable while keeping the rest of the software stack the same. Namely to show Ubuntu users with Alder Lake whether it makes any sense moving past the default kernel and what the latest stable kernel performance looks like...

Ubuntu 21.10 + Linux 5.16 Git - Plus a run of Ubuntu 21.10 when using Linux 5.16 Git as of 11 November for the very latest upstream kernel code... Intel hasn't posted any Thread Director patches for Linux yet or other Alder Lake optimizations, which are now too late for Linux 5.16. But this run is basically to show the very latest bleeding-edge kernel code. In the process it ended up uncovering a Linux 5.16 performance regression...

All of the tested Linux distributions ran fine with the Core i9 12900K Alder Lake system with the exception of the ADL-S GT1 graphics out of the box. You need to boot all of these distributions with the "i915.force_probe=4680" kernel parameter to get working Alder Lake graphics support. Only with Linux 5.16 are the Alder Lake S graphics declared stable and enabled by default. But when using the force-probe option for the Intel graphics, all of these distributions were working out fine with it and their stock kernel/Mesa driver stack.

Anyhow, onward to the Windows 11 vs. Linux benchmarks for Alder Lake across dozens of benchmarks with reliable/similar Windows and Linux platform support.


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